The clock is slowly ticking down to the start of September and the 2011 season is about to hit its stride. However, there is one helluva straightaway before we get to turn four.
Now granted, be it in NASCAR terms or whatever vehicular jargon you like, the Sox are in pit row. The pitching has since sputtered, the line-up is thumping over a blown tire and while the fuel has been fine, thinning the mix for the length of the race has been a problem. Luckily, at this point anyway, we’re not alone as our neighbors roughly 150 miles to the southwest have been in the same race.
Lackey has been anything but the ‘second ace’ we expected were getting when the ink dried on the contract. In fact, from one start to another, you’re not sure which version of the big hoss will show. Wakefield has been stuck, seemingly, in nuetral. However, in Wake’s defense, the Time Lord has pitched fairly well and kept opponents at bay as well Miller or the semi-Lackey but just hasn’t had the stability behind him. Lester is for a better word ‘back’ and Beckett is looking as if he’ll be completing a great ‘comeback’ year. Bedard, well, there is yet another question mark. Yeah, the ERA isn’t horrific but do we have time for a ‘work in progress’ we may only be renting anyway?
Youk, who’s been in and out of the line-up with various injuries (which to his credit he has attempted to play through) may have picked a ‘good’ time to go out on the DL. Big Papi was already riding the bench and should be back and well into getting his swing on by the time Youk returns. A-Gon has been hampered by a neck problem which has stolen his home run stroke and now Jacoby ‘The Machine’ Ellsbury is hitting a slight breakdown. Well, believe it or not, we should still be OK. Petey rode in the slow lane early and has picked up an MVP caliber season since while Crawford, extremely slow to adapt to his new surroundings, is again hitting his stride following the mid-season injury. Combine that with Marco, Reddick, Salty/Tek’ and the on and off mix n’ match pieces we’ve been plugging in… along with A-Gon’s ability to still hit for average if not power… we’re hanging in there.
But not by much.
Now comes the time of year where you need to take every series. Splitting a four game series won’t be enough. Now its three out of four or two of three. Sure, you can’t sweep every series, not should you expect to, but taking the series is without a doubt. So the question is… who do we need to line up in our sights and show no mercy..?
We open a four game set with the Rangers of Texas in Arlington who will obviously be no push-over and then return home for a month-ending home stand. First we see the Athletics, late of Philly and Kansas City (and possibly soon of Oakland), for a three game series and after an off day welcome the New York Highlanders for an all important AL East match-up (of course, we visit the Bronx Zoo in late September for the final weekend of the season, amidst a Baltimore sandwich series). We then open September with the final game of the Pinstripes series in the friendly confines and then welcome… guess who, the Texas Rangers for yet another volley of Defending AL Champs stew. The remainder of the month is as it should be, an AL East love-fest where we play what seems like 400 games against the Blue Jays and Rays (strangely, both teams having towns that begin with ‘T’ and names that end in ‘..’ays’) with the aforementioned Baltimore sandwich with Yankee filler.
Those same Pinstripes will be home for a series against the wandering A’s, a visit to the O’s and then have the aforementioned sleep-over at Fenway. There month however… isn’t as AL East lovey-dovey as ours. In fact, they have a West Coast road trip amidst the love-fest to visit Seattle and the Los Angeles Americans (as compared to the Los Angeles Nationals). The ‘Bombers also will play the final two weeks of the season with no day off as a one-game visit from the Twinkies will fill that date on the calendar.
So all we really need at this point is for the pitching woes to sure-up, the bullpen to get some new life and the hitting to get back on track while the opponents from the city so nice they named it twice to get some serious fatigue and jet lag, but with some of the seniors playing on their team, that might not be a problem.